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Updated on 6 September 2015


Section 10:   Monthly forecast and calendar


“Non-proliferation” as a footnote on the Council’s programme of work

The monthly programme of work, or “calendar”, adopted by the Security Council for May 2015 marked the first time since June 2009 that the notation “Non-proliferation” did not appear as a footnote.  As indicated on page 435 of the book, “The Security Council uses the placement of items in the calendar ‘footnote’ to indicate that an item is being followed by the Council and that there is a possibility of its being taken up during the month.”


The notation “Non-proliferation” was first entered as a footnote on the Council’s February 2006 calendar.  The understanding was that the notation related to non-proliferation with regard both to Iran and to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The respective agenda items used by the Council for those two matters are “Non-proliferation” and “Non-proliferation/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, and each of these items has been on the Council’s agenda since 2006.


Security Council members have not always agreed on the criteria for listing matters in the calendar footnote.  Some Council members hold that there should be a high probability that a matter so listed will be taken up that month by the Council.  Others have considered that an important message can be sent by putting a matter in the footnote to signify that the Council is maintaining a focused watch on the matter, and could at any time take it up should the situation appear to deteriorate.


This difference of viewpoint affected the consistency with which the Council monthly calendars included “Non-proliferation” from 2006 to 2008.  In 2006, “Non-proliferation” appeared as a footnote in nine of the monthly work programmes.  In 2007, the entry appeared on only five calendars, and this was also the case in 2008.  Then from January 2009 to April 2015, “Non-proliferatiion” appeared on all work programmes except that of June 2009.


It is possible that the Council members refrained from entering “Non-proliferation” as a footnote on the May 2015 calendar in deference to the sensitive stage reached in the negotiations for a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme.  However, the notation "Non-proliferation" returned to the footnote of the programmes of work for June and July 2015, without public explanation by the Council.  Then, after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was concluded on 14 July 2015, Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), adopted on 20 July, endorsed the JCPOA and affirmed that it “marks a fundamental shift in [the Council’s] consideration of this issue”.  Two weeks later, when the programme of work for the month of August was adopted, the “Non-proliferation” footnote was again absent. 


When the September work programme was published, “Non-proliferation” was back as a footnote.  This may be in connection with “Adoption Day”, the date on which the JCPOA will come into effect.  Under the JCPOA, that date will at latest fall on 18 October 2015, that is, 90 days after the endorsement of the JCPOA by Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), adopted on 20 July 2015.  But “Adoption Day” could be set earlier, if there is mutual consent among the JCPOA participants to do so.  In addition, the return of “Non-proliferation” as a footnote may reflect its historical dual significance as also applying to the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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